We could start researching Samkhya by googling ‘Samkhya’, and half way down the page is Larsen’s very good ‘Classical Samkhya’.
Here again, although I am wary, Danielou complexified the issue in his interesting way by pushing back the source of Samkhya into the phases of primoridal Shaivism.
Comments on Danielou: Samkhya
27.09.09 at 8:50 pm
One of the topics that I would like to see a scholar take up is how the systems of Samkhya/early Buddhism/Patanjali developed. As far as I know, noone has discussed how these systems developed this view that there is some wholly transcendent aspect to the sentient organism. It radically differs with the monism and/or immanism of Vedanta/Upanishads/Mahayana(I don’t buy Phulgenda Sinha’s assertion that Shankara misinterpreted the Upanishads. It seems pretty obvious that they are in support of monism/immanism). I wonder if there were two different sources of the “yogas.”
27.09.09 at 10:14 pm
It also seems to me that the translation of “purusha” as “self” in Patanjali/Samkhya makes no sense. If this “pure awareness” is completely transcendent and stands in relation to nothing (i.e. an object/prakriti), then it obviously can’t be a defined in terms of “self” (A subject can only be defined in relation to an object and vice versa.).
Aryan-Dravidian divide a myth: Study
This article shows that confusion is arising already from this study on caste. I have seen a number of comments at the article sites for this complaining that this research is confusing the issue.
We shall see.
Comment on Danielou, with a link to recent Indian caste articles:
Amos Anon said,
27.09.09 at 7:43 am ·
Did you see this?
This article is not fully clear: castes and tribal associations are different things. The question of Aryan castes and primordial tribes are different.
India’s caste system descended from two tribes ‘not colonialism’Mark Henderson Science Editor
Read the rest of this entry »
My copy of Against The Modern World arrived yesterday afternoon by FedEx and I have been rereading it. Fascinating stuff.
Let me note a difference here between Guenon, who was keen on Vedanta, and the more knowledgeable (if sometimes wobbly) Danielou who rightly saw Vedanta as later concoction, now much favored by modernists (including Vivekananda, et al.) who need a button-holed simplification of Indian spirituality. Guenon was a bit of a New Age amateur before the fact.
Danielou is/is not labeled a Traditionalist? I don’t wish to misuse Sedgewick’s terminology. The Traditionalists are retail consumers, Danielou closer to the wholesalers. I will leave the judgment to others, but note that Danielou is a de facto ‘anti-modernist’ (unless I am mistaken), but in any case a man with a larger framework than the usual postmodern anti-modernism. I linger on this point, as noted, because the history of Indian religion, the anti-modernist red herring apart, gives many the impression of a peak in the Neolithic, after which it falls off, the age of Vedism, Buddhism, Hinduism seeming to them almost a decline!!!
That’s an illusion perhaps, but careful study of Indian religion suggests a major phase in the Neolithic, perhaps the sixth millennium. That’s a completely ordinary historical/archaeological possibility. The opponents of the Aryan migration thesis have been saying this for a long time, but failed to grasp that it has nothing to do with Aryans.
If we look at the parallel Mesopotamia it is just this era that shows the creation of great temple complexes. Religion is already an old phenomenon by the time ‘higher civilization’ takes off ca. 3000 BCE. That a similar religiouns foundation period occurred in Indian at this time can’t be ruled out.
(Note by the way that the eonic effect tends to suggest just this!)
Danielou goes further and suggests a link between Shaivism and the Dionysus cult in the West. It would take a lot of research to check this out, so I don’t know, but the point Danielou is making is the one I just made: the early millennia before the rise of higher civilization, the five millennia of the Neolithic, are the probable sources for later religion, and especially of something related to Danielou’s answer, primordial Shaivism (and Jainism).
These views are not necessarily wild. If you wonder why Catholicism reverted to goddes worship in disguise with the Virgin Mary the reason is the reversion to Neolithic type, where the first ‘catholicisms’ appeared in primitive forms. Etc… I must caution myself against speculation.
In any case, Danielou’s approach is a caution to students of Indian religion: the underground stream of Shavism is resurfacing at various points and this influences the history in ways that are puzzling if you are not aware of what is happening (e.g. why does Buddhism suddenly go tantric, etc…)
Comment from MBFM on ‘Against The Modern World’
25.09.09 at 8:53 am ·
The book lover’s best friend.
You must have a terrific library that they had a copy of Sedgwick’s book available. Good on ya..and your library, too.
Sedgwick also has a website and a blog.
And one person’s review of Against the Modern World
A google search on the Schuon mess:
A website containing (among many other things) writings on Traditionalism and Spiritual Fascism. I may have already supplied these citations, so forgive my redundancy.
(He cites the Trimondi’s as a resource. Am not sure they are at all reliable. So, caveat lector)
One of the reasons I deal with Bennett and ‘give him a break’ as it were, is that his The Dramatic Universe, however confused, is an evolutionary scheme, and shows the historical blocks of evolution/history in their correct progressive aspect. Although his formulation is not standard, it is nonetheless closer to a modernist viewpoint than to the ‘ages of decline’ cyclical mythology that Danielou wrests from the history of Indian religion.
Bennet deserves a little consideration here then, and, indeed, we should at some point cite his discussion of modernity, and the emergence of democracy.
All these traditionalists, near whom we must include such figures as Gurdjieff, see modernity as a decline and its democracy as some aspect of that, with the crypto-fascist implications of their period analysis.
One of the funny ironies of the Traditionalists who are ‘against the modern age’ is that, given Danielou’s periodization of the various ages, among the Kali Yuga, much of the ‘tradition’ is itself a form of decline. Danielou seems quite aware of this, and isn’t it quite funny that Hinduism is a concoction of the Kali Yuga!!!
23.09.09 at 5:44 pm · (wiggle, squirm blush)
Well, I appreciate the compliment, but all I did was read Mark Sedgwick’s book, Against the Modern World, and keep it handy on the bookshelf next to my computer.
Danielou sounded like a familiar name, I knew he had some kind of tie to Rene Guenon, because I had read Sedgwick. So, all I needed to do was reach for the book and quote the necessary passages.
I recommend all interested persons purchase a copy. It has just been reissued in paperback and if you go to http://www.bookfinder.com, you can do some comparison shopping.
The book is a pleasure to read and even the footnotes are terrific.
You are correct: I am going to get the book, even though I read it quite a while ago (with a library copy).
Comment by MBFM on Danielou and Guenon, along with the Traditionalists
23.09.09 at 7:53 am
Mircea Eliade, who became famous for his works on shamanism, was also a soft Traditionalist scholar. He had been active in Romanian Traditionalist projects and groups and after the communist take over, went into exile.
Rene Guenon’s Ph.D thesis was rejected because ”it made light of history and historical criticism’ a criticism of Guenon’s methodology that was in many ways justified. Guenon made no pretense of following the standard scholarly methods of Indology; for reasons examined later, his approach was theological rather than anthropological or sociological. For Guenon, Hinduism was a repository of spiritual truth, not the body of beliefs and practices modified over time that late 19th-century Western scholarship recognized. While this approach obviously disqualified Guenon’s work for Levi’s purposes (Sylvain Levi was Guenon’s dissertation advisor), it did not for the Roman Catholic philsopher (Jacques Maritain).’
‘Levi’s second objection to Guenon’s thesis was that it left out anything that did not fit Guenon’s theory that Hinduism could be reduced to Vedanta. Vedanta is one of six darshanas or philosophical schools of Hinduism, …for Levi and for later Indologists, therea re many varieties of Hinduism other than Vedanta; that Guenon chose to ignore these was a consequence of the context in which he had first encountered Vedanta, discussed later.
‘Levi’s third objection to the thesis was that Guenon was ‘quite ready to believe in a mystical transmission of a primal truth (un verite, primiere) that appeared to humanity in the first ages of the world’ (Ibid, page 22-23) a belief that was not acceptable within a university context, but would have been fine in a devotional context–which Ph.D work is not.
Even at the end of Guenon’s life, when he had become Muslim and lived in Egypt, ‘Guenon remained not only a universalist in his beliefs, but a Traditionalist, rather than a Muslim in his writings. There are few references to Islam in his work before 1930, and despite a slight increase in references after 1930, Islam never became an important source for him. Nor was it an important element in his reading; his private library contained some 3,000 volumes at teh time of his death, but four times as many on Hinduism as on Islam and few or perhaps none in Arabic.”
Page 77, Against the Modern World.
(This reference to Guenon’s library is also carefully footnoted by Sedgwick and takes the reader to a survey of Guenon’s library by someone who inventoried it. Sedgwick cannot rule out that some books were sold before the library was inventoried. )
(MBTF note: Guenon’s mistake was to take a devotional and personally subjective approach to his Ph.D work, in a university context that demanded an objective approach–thats the idea of a university. It shows a fragile personality unable to shift gears and attain objectivity in relation to a subject in which emotional investment runs so deep that objectivity is impossible, even when career success demands it)
And this was the author, some of whose works. Alain Danielou sought to translate into Hindi.
This is useful material: we can see how the viewpoint of Danielou (e.g. the cycles mythology of the Kali Yuga) has entered into the Traditionalist view of things, and they have bit on the hook provided by Danielou and others.
It shoudl be point out that Danielou is a little different, at least in the beginning, and focusses on a solid thesis: the Dravidian and pre-Aryan sources of Shaivism and Jainism prior to the later arrival of Hinduism.
Note that Danielou, at first, is more sophisticated than the Traditionalists, because he is not bemused by the later artificial concoction called Hinduism.
Danielou’s basis points, which should never be associated with Traditionalism, is that the Indian religious tradition shows a pre-Aryan source in Shaivism, with Jainism ambiguously trotting along in parallel, and equally ancient, far older than Buddhism.
If we can stay away from New Age bullshit, and stay with archaeology with Danielou’s hints, we can see that something like this has to be true.
If the Vedas didn’t produce yoga or tantra, then where did they come from?
Danielou unwittingly gives us a fuzzy hint.
MBFM comments on Danielou’s knowledge of Guenon
23.09.09 at 7:33 am
‘Guenon also acquired some new readers during (World War II), including Alain Danielou, a French musician and convert to Hinduism then living in Benares, India, who began the translation of some of Guenon’s works into Hindi. His elder brother, Jean Danielou, who at the end of his life was a Catholic cardinal and member of the Academie Francaise, became interested enough in Traditionalism to write occasional articles on the subject. (In his footnote to this sentence, Sedgwick cites three published sources for those who wish to go further).
Page 119-120, Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century, by Mark Sedgwick.
comment from MBFM
23.09.09 at 7:54 am ·
Alain Danielou appears to have been a perennialist, and a devotee of Rene Guenon’s Traditionalism. This is discussed in two comments I have appended to a later article.
MBFM is just in time to start looking at the context of Danielou’s New Age thought, and his connection with Guenon’s Traditionalism is essential to know, after we momentarily gave his works some credence.
The usefulness of Danielou was to have some support for what I have always suspected (but don’t really know for sure) is the solution to the Aryan migration debate: Indian spirituality predates the Aryans and has a Dravidian history going back to the Neolithic. The asseration that the Puranas are probably complex translations from some Dravidian source clinches the point right away, but most scholars are afraid to say such a thing in their books/.
But we need to scope Danielou against his background, as MBFM is doing.
I have been getting several books by Danielou from Amazon super cheap, books from the seventies: the last one is Gods of Love and Ecstasy, The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus,
While the Gods Play: Shaiva Oracles and Predictions on the Cycles of History and The Destiny of Mankind.
This latter book shows the catch in much of Danielou’s system of thought and takes up the highly questionable cyclical view of history from those who propose the ‘Kali Yuga’
I was just about to comment critically on this when MBFM shows up with the right info here on Danielou’s background,.
Before proceeding let me say that I found Danielou’s history of India, despite its flaws, actually better than many of the last several decades, since the politically correct stance on the Aryan migration question has made them all suspect.
Danielou shows up this nonsense before it happened (his work is from the seventies or so) by assuming, this from a devoted fan of Hinduism, that the original assumption of an Aryan invasion was accepted even by most students of Indian religion (another good example being Rajneesh who denounced this fallacy when in started, in the seventies, or early eighties).
But the dross that Danielou accumulates is considerable and here comes MBFM.
The discovery of Danielou may seem a bit odd to some here: it is something that is only clear to someone who has devoted long study to the subject of Indian religion, and failed to penetrated its very simple riddle, which is shunted aside the moment people get close.
Danielou’s scholarship is a bit treacherous, and one needs to ‘get the point’ without accepting all his facts. The exact nature of the relationship of Shiva to Dionysus is not so simple, nor is the pattern of cultural diffusion and interaction in the Neolithic in any way clear.
But the issues raised by Danielou will explicate what is often unfolding in Indian and/or New Age groups behind a simple disguise.
Consider Rajneeh with his emphasis on tantra, almost to carry out the project indicated by Danielou.
Our concern here is history, not becoming converts to another historical fiction. Shaivism was not fiction, but its exemplars deal in fictions, we can be sure. Reviving the past is problematical.
With splendid naivete Danielou reveals the secret and the scandal where more tight-lipped poker players (and scoundrels) are plying this theme of the one and true ancient teaching, and doing shadowy things that the ancient Shaivism did in the open. Thus Danielou warns us of human sacrifice in the ancient tantric religion! Sufis, Gurdjieffians, et al. are not so talkative.
Thus, the somewhat thin quality of Danielou’s material nonetheless contains a set of keys to religious archaeology, and to what must have been the lost ‘religion’ of the Neolithic Indians, millennia before the rascal Aryans.
We don’t wish to be conned into another round of derivative new age tantra, but we can appreciate the historical value of Danielou’s key, so obvious, so out in the open, something we have read a few times before without it registering. After many confusing way stations on the road to Indian religion his most obvious analysis suddenly becomes clear (if incomplete, and riddled with possible scholarly errors)>
We cannot revive the past, and must beware of the crooks and con men who will recycle this material.
It all sounds suspicious reminiscent of Gurdjieff and his con, the ancient teachings, their secret, etc…
Use the historical clue, one the more useful from this naif, but beware of the conmen selling antiquities as spiritual paths.